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Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

These Caramelized Brussels Sprouts are a crowd-pleasing side dish simple enough for weeknights and elegant enough for entertaining. Fresh brussels sprouts are roasted in bacon fat and finished with a refined balsamic glaze -so they turn out golden-crisp on the surface, tender in the center, and just sweet enough to enjoy straight from the sheet pan!

caramelized brussels sprouts close up on a baking sheet drizzled with balsamic

If you’re skeptical about brussels sprouts like I once was, these roasted brussels sprouts will be the recipe to sell you. Needless to say, these aren’t your average roasted brussels sprouts. Instead, they’re caramelized in rich, salty bacon fat, then glazed with a sweet, tangy balsamic reduction.

As a result, these caramelized brussels sprouts are like veggie candy. I find it difficult to refrain from gobbling up the whole pan by myself. That said, consider doubling the recipe, so you have one pan for snacking and one pan for serving!

Speaking of serving, bacon fat makes everything better, and these are bacon-fat brussels sprouts after all, so naturally, they are a smash hit wherever they’re served. They’re a great side dish for busy weekdays and the holiday season. You’re seriously going to adore these brussels sprouts!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It’s practically effortless to throw together in under 30 minutes. 
  • In addition to being a fantastic side dish, these brussels sprouts are delicious added to salads and served as an appetizer with creamy dipping sauces. 
  • It’s incredibly easy to make and bake directly on a sheet pan.

Ingredients You’ll Need

ingredients for caramelized brussels sprouts
  • Brussels sprouts – Choose fresh, bright green brussels sprouts that are firm to the touch with tightly packed leaves. There shouldn’t be any yellowing or dark spots. 
  • Rendered bacon fat – I’ve made it a habit to save bacon fat for flavoring other dishes. If you do not have bacon grease on hand, scroll down for recipes that call for cooked bacon. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil – Olive oil has a higher smoke point than bacon grease, so it keeps it from burning. 
  • Balsamic vinegar glaze – This recipe requires balsamic vinegar glaze, not regular balsamic vinegar. Balsamic glaze is a balsamic vinegar reduction, so it’s much thicker and more syrupy. You can use balsamic vinegar, but the final flavor will be different. 
  • Sea salt & fresh ground pepper – I recommend sea salt as it improves flavors and adds a delicate textural dimension. Fresh cracked black pepper also makes a big difference. 
  • Olive oil or Avocado cooking spray – To grease the baking sheet and keep the brussels sprouts moist as they roast. 

How To Caramelize Brussels Sprouts In Bacon Fat

Step 1: Prepare for roasting. Preheat the oven to 375°F and spray a baking sheet with olive oil. Meanwhile, get your sprouts ready for roasting by washing, drying well, and removing the outer layer of leaves. Slice each sprout in half lengthwise.  

brussels sprouts cut in half in a white bowl

Step 2: Coat sprouts with bacon grease and oil. Add halved brussels sprouts to a large bowl. Drizzle rendered bacon fat and olive oil over the top, and gently toss until the sprouts are evenly coated. Pour onto the baking sheet sprayed with oil and season with a big pinch of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. 

brussels sprouts spread onto a baking sheet

Step 3: Roast brussels sprouts. Transfer to the oven and roast, turning once about halfway through, until the sprouts are tender and just beginning to brown. If they start to look dry during roasting, give them a quick spritz of olive oil. 

brussels sprouts drizzled with balsamic vinegar on a baking sheet


Step 4: Toss with glaze and finish in the oven. Remove from the oven, and quickly toss with balsamic glaze. Then pop the baking sheet back in the oven and continue roasting until golden brown on both sides with some lightly charred, caramelized edges. Serve immediately.

roasted brussels sprouts ready to serve on a baking sheet

Recipe Tips

  • The exact time it takes to roast brussels sprouts until they are perfectly caramelized depends on the size of your sprouts, so keep a close eye on the oven and watch for doneness. 
  • Remember, when it comes to brussels sprouts, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. In fact, if they’re on the smaller side, that typically means they were picked before maturity, so they’re naturally sweeter and juicier. 
  • The amount of balsamic glaze you use depends on your preference. If you like subtle balsamic flavor, only add a small splash, but if you want a sweet and savory punch, go to town on the drizzle of glaze. In my house, we like ours heavy on sauce!

Variations

Switch things up and customize your bacon grease brussels sprouts with any of these mix-in and tasty toppings. 

  • Vegetables – Feel free to caramelize other veggies in bacon fat along with brussels sprouts. Use ones that cook at the same rate like bite-size cauliflower florets, whole shallots or pearl onions, baby carrots, and chopped sweet potatoes. 
  • Nuts – These brussels sprouts are excellent with an added crunchy element from almond slivers, chopped walnuts, or pecans.
  • Bacon – Cooked until crispy beforehand and crumbled over the top before serving. Prosciutto works too!
  • Cheese – Creamy, rich cheeses crumpled over the top while they’re still hot is an excellent complement to tangy balsamic glaze. Try with blue cheese, feta, or goat cheese. 
close up of roasted brussels sprouts in bacon grease on a sheet pan with balsamic glaze on top

Storing & Reheating

Storing: Keep leftover cooled roasted brussels sprouts in a shallow airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. I do not recommend freezing. 
Reheating: The best way to reheat leftover brussels sprouts is on a lightly greased baking sheet at 375° until just warmed through.

Recipe FAQs

How do you make balsamic glaze?

To make homemade balsamic glaze, add balsamic vinegar to a pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the vinegar thickens into a sticky syrup consistency. To make it sweeter, reduce the vinegar with sugar.

Why are my Brussels sprouts bitter?

Brussels sprouts, like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, are members of the cruciferous vegetable family, so some bitterness is to be expected. That said, brussels sprouts become more bitter as they age, so use freshly picked spouts. They’re less bitter and more sweet and earthy.

More Recipes With Bacon

These recipes specifically call for cooked bacon, so you can immediately use the rendered bacon fat to caramelize your brussels sprouts. That’s a win! 

If you love this recipe, I would be so grateful if you could leave a 5-star 🌟rating in the recipe card below. I love reading your comments and feedback!

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caramelized brussels with balsamic drizzled all over on a baking sheet
close up of roasted brussels sprouts in bacon grease on a sheet pan with balsamic glaze on top

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Caramelized Brussels sprouts are a delicious and easy side dish. Fresh Brussels sprouts are roasted in bacon fat and glazed with a balsamic reduction. This will be your new favorite Brussels sprouts recipe!
4.69 from 22 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 111kcal
Author: Amee

Equipment

  • Oven

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp rendered bacon fat
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts
  • Balsamic vinegar glaze thicker than regular balsamic vinegar *see notes for a homemade version
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • olive oil cooking spray or Avocado oil spray

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Wash Brussels sprouts and peel off the first outer layer.
  • Slice the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise.
  • Place into a large bowl and toss with bacon fat and olive oil.
  • Pour onto a greased baking pan sprayed with olive oil or avocado oil cooking spray and season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
  • Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning once in between and give them a little spritz of olive oil spray, if needed, halfway through baking time.
  • Remove Brussels sprouts from oven and lightly drizzle balsamic glaze over top.
  • Toss to coat and pop back into the oven for 3-5 minutes more or until golden brown on both sides.
  • Serve warm.

Notes

  • To make balsamic glaze, add balsamic vinegar to a pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the vinegar thickens into a sticky syrup consistency. To make it sweeter, reduce the vinegar with sugar.
  • The exact time it takes to roast brussels sprouts until they are perfectly caramelized depends on the size of your sprouts, so keep a close eye on the oven and watch for doneness. 
  • Remember, when it comes to brussels sprouts, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. In fact, if they’re on the smaller side, that typically means they were picked before maturity, so they’re naturally sweeter and juicier. 
  • The amount of balsamic glaze you use depends on your preference. If you like subtle balsamic flavor, only add a small splash, but if you want a sweet and savory punch, go to town on the drizzle of glaze. 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 111kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 35mg | Potassium: 441mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 855IU | Vitamin C: 96mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 2mg
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Amee Livingston
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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Cooked this recipe for my wife, who thought she HATED Brussels sprouts. They were delicious (which is a word seldom associated with the little cabbages). The glaze was super easy to make, but I found out after the fact that you can buy it commercially (for those of you in a real hurry.) Followed the recipe exactly, as I had never tried cooking these in 33 years of marriage.

4.69 from 22 votes (20 ratings without comment)

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